With great regret and a heavy heart, we share the passing of the lovely and talented Caroline Menetre Totten of AML Leukemia with family and friends by her side on October 30, 2016. Our heartfelt condolences are shared with her husband Dave Totten, family, friends, and colleagues she had accumulated in her joyous 60 years from both within and beyond the greenroof and greenwall world.
She was a dear, dear colleague of mine and Aramis and had become a wonderful friend to me. It has been hard for me to finish this In Memoriam but Caroline deserves to be honored and recognized for the witty, funny, warm soul that she is, and what she meant to me. For the past several years she had been an independent landscape designer, environmental horticulturist, and local organic garden manager. Yet many of you in our business knew her from being Greenroofs.com’s Student Intern from 2008 – 2009; with a chuckle she always said she was probably the oldest student intern ever – but loved it! Caroline graduated in 2009 North Metro Tech in Atlanta with a degree in Environmental Horticulture with a specialization in Sustainable Urban Horticulture.
We met in 2008 when Janet Faust (formerly with JDR Enterprises here in Alpharetta, and also a dear colleague) was teaching an Environmental Horticulture class at North Metro Tech and had asked me to come in and talk to the students about greenroofs. This was Caroline’s second degree – her first was in Commercial Art from Mississippi University for Women. In fact, before moving to Marietta, Georgia she was employed for 20 years as senior art director with one of northwest Florida’s most established and successful advertising agencies. But in her career change and new life in Georgia, she wanted to concentrate on her love of ecological landscape design and gardening, and in particular greenroofs and greenwalls along with vertical agriculture/urban farming.
Caroline and I clicked from the beginning, and we were so lucky she agreed to collaborate with us on diverse projects, including building our Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database; setting up the design of this Sky Gardens blog; helping me weed and maintain “my” greenroof project here for the City of Alpharetta – The Greenroof Pavilion & Greenroof Trial Gardens of Rock Mill Park and also helping me with the layout and design for its outdoor interpretive greenroof and Cherokee heritage book for the City; re-designing the look of our (former) yearly calendars; and artwork for our inaugural biennial 2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit (plus through 2015), among many other design and local projects such as greenroof information sharing work with a local Girl Scouts troop and elementary school, and so much more.
We went on many adventures together, and she started attending the CitiesAlive conferences with us in 2008 in Baltimore through Nashville in 2014.
Always the artist, she never went anywhere without her camera, and had a sensitive sense of style and composition, always capturing the fun, uniqueness, and beauty of a setting. While we were in Baltimore in 2008 Ed Snodgrass invited Aramis, Caroline and me along with Trish Luckett, Tom Liptan, Dr. Brad Rowe, and Kirsten Getter to visit Emory Knoll Farms, which was fantastic for many reasons – read about it here.
Caroline shot lots of photos and played around with several of them with art effects which you can appreciate below:
A member of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, Caroline was on our Local Host Committee when the Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference was held here in Atlanta in 2009. Along with Janet, we all served on the Tours Committee and Caroline lent her years of experience in graphics advertising and editorial publications to create the Atlanta Green Roofs Tours 2009 brochure:
Because of Caroline’s love for greenwalls, in January 2011 Caroline and I flew up to New York and attended the Green Living Technologies’ Professional Installer Certification Training. We had a great time with George Irwin and made lots of new friends including Steve and Lizette Ritz, plus learning a lot, too. You can read her blog post GLT in NYC: A Weekend of Training, Education, & Fun for more.
And in September 2011 I interviewed French botanist Dr. Patrick Blanc, renown for his stunning Le Mur Végétal or Vertical Gardens – in Chicago for our inaugural 2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit. Caroline accompanied me along with my son Joey, the videographer (she said she didn’t care what she had to do – carry my bags, etc. – but she just had to come along and meet him!). Of course, she did help a lot! She was a huge fan of his, and you can see Caroline in action in her introduction of Patrick in our video “The Vertical Garden – from Nature to Cities: An Interview with Patrick Blanc.”
We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the Windy City as you can see below; to learn more, read Caroline and my September 14, 2011 blog post Notre Voyage Fantastique: Chicago & Patrick Blanc. Enjoy some of Caroline’s photo art, too:
Although born in Mississippi, Caroline always considered herself a Florida girl, having lived there for 24 years – or at least a beach girl – and was happiest on the beach. In 2014 Caroline wed the love of her life, Dave Totten, and they were able to spend a good amount of time on Siesta Key, Florida throughout their time together. Dave is a great guy and Aramis and I had fun with them whenever we got together.
Caroline’s family was priority number one in her life, and along with husband Dave she is survived by her brother Brian Menetre, sister Mary Ellen Menetre Edwards, stepdaughter Alaina and stepson Eric Totten, many nieces and nephews, and six great nephews and three great nieces. She loved being a great aunt and always proudly shared photos and updates with everyone.
In fact, Caroline loved life and giving of herself to others.
I’ll miss her beautiful smile, our impromptu lunches, and going to the Fox Theatre to see the plays Mamma Mia and Wicked, and mostly her kind and gentle soul.
Caroline’s family held a lovely Celebration Life for her on November 5, 2016 in Marietta, GA. Please feel free to share your comments below, or send me photos to add at: [email protected]
Caroline, you will be greatly missed by all!
By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP